April 22, 2010

Does God Hold up the World?—a Reply to Norris Burkes

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Read responses to this essay in the Springfield News-Leader

It appears to me that your recent editorial in the Springfield News-Leader (April 17, 2010) went for an easy ambiguous confession of faith rather than addressing the situation in terms of the 21st century. Quoting Job 26:7 you said, in reply to the “Chicken Littles” of the world, that God holds the sky in place: “We’re hanging in empty space held up only by our creator.”

     There is another answer that could have been given that would have been more helpful to your readers. Einstein theorized that the planets in our planetary system are held in their current elliptical movement around the sun because of the curvature of space. The sun’s massive size causes a distortion in space-time, a “sag” in the fabric of the universe, if you will. And our earth is drawn toward the sun but will not fall into it as long as it keeps moving around the “sag” at speed. His theory was demonstrated as early as 1919 when the size of the displacement was measured. The skies (space) are not “held up,” as you poetically state, but rather the universe is expanding, and our sun and its planetary system (including the earth) are on a mad ride across space at incredible rates of speed around the Milky Way. And that too has been measured.

     Your confessional “solution” creates a problem for believers in the following way: If God is holding the earth “in place,” then to be consistent God must be responsible for the recent eruption of the volcano in Iceland, and Poseidon-like God also caused the recent earth quakes in China, as well as unleashing the devastating floods of this past spring. In other words, if you evoke God to explain our current physical situation in the universe, then you ultimately lay both the good and bad in the physical universe at God’s feet (so to speak). Your confession of faith suggests some form of a traditional anti-intellectualism. Since the 18th century Christian faith has been waging a serious rearguard action against the challenges of science and human reason, and quips of traditional faith do not really help in resolving those issues.


Charles W. Hedrick
Professor Emeritus
Missouri State University

Posted by Charles Hedrick at 2:32pm